Isabel Allende opened Two Words, one of her short stories, with this line:
"She went by the name of Belisa Crepusculario, not because she had been baptized with that name or given it by her mother, but because she herself had searched until she found the poetry of 'beauty' and 'twilight' and cloaked herself in it."
The ability to fuse language, love and story layout in contemporary literature has also been mastered by Nelson DeMille, Pat Conroy, and Anita Diamant. I read for balance: sarcasm and sentimentality; the feminine and the masculine; a series of scenes and an epic journey. These writers have created my favorite books. They've ventilated my best loved characters from nothingness to breath.
If I have a muse, it is my library. In third grade I won an award for writing the best stories. I also won for reading the most books. As my teacher unfurled my prize--the laminated poster of a unicorn--she described the interconnectedness of these two accomplishments to the class. "You can't be a writer without being a reader," she said.
Twenty-two years later, I've still got the reading part down. Perhaps it's time to get back to work on the other part of the equation.
The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Beach Music by Pat Conroy
The Gate House by Nelson DeMille
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant